May 16, 2012; Toronto, ON, Canada; Toronto Blue Jays right fielder Jose Bautista (19) hits a solo home run in the 5th inning against the New York Yankees at the Rogers Centre. The Blue Jays beat the Yankees 8-1. Mandatory Credit: Tom Szczerbowski-US PRESSWIRE

Series Preview: Mets @ Blue Jays


Ahh, interleague play is finally upon us! The first taste of American League and National League teams crossing the line to play one another is here for its first installment. This year, in addition to their annual six games against the Yankees in the Subway Series, the Mets will be taking on the rest of the American League East. Last year, New York finished interleague play with a 9-9 record, pushing their all-time record in these contests to 127-120 (35-49 against the Yankees). On the flipside, the Blue Jays enter interleague play with a 123-142 record.

How they’re performing:

The Blue Jays are in the middle of their own New York swing in Toronto, saying goodbye to the Yankees by embarrassing them the last two games, before welcoming the Mets to the Rogers Centre for three more. Toronto is 5-5 in their last ten games and 21-18 on the season, 4 games behind the first place Orioles (huh?).

Offensively, their .239 team batting average and .309 team on-base percentage both rank in the lower half of the league, and it’s mostly because starters like Adam Lind (.186), Colby Rasmus (.203), and Jose Bautista (.207) have been struggling out of the gate. However, Brett Lawrie (.281) and Edwin Encarnacion (.275) are carrying the load. This team can hit home runs though (4thmost

Apr. 26, 2012; Flushing, NY, USA; New York Mets center fielder Kirk Nieuwenhuis (9) is congratulated by second baseman Daniel Murphy (28) after scoring during the first inning against the Miami Marlins at Citi Field. Mandatory Credit: Debby Wong-US PRESSWIRE

in MLB), so they are currently 7th in the league in runs scored with 179. On the mound, their team ERA of 3.54 and team WHIP of 1.28 both rank in the middle of the pack, and they’ve gotten solid production out of Ricky Romero, Kyle Drabek and Henderson Alvarez.

The Mets are coming off a short home stand, where they finished 2-2 before starting yet another road trip. Yesterday’s comeback win against the Reds puts them 2.5 games out of first place with a 21-17 record. They continue to hit (.266 team BA) and get on base (.339 team OBP) at a high rate, both ranking in the top-6 in the MLB.

Even though they’re second-to-last in the league in home runs, their 161 runs scored are 13th in the Majors. The offense has been led by NL-leading hitter David Wright (.411) and Daniel Murphy (.331), and the series against Cincinnati saw Lucas Duda (.279) start to get hot. Despite solid pitching from Johan Santana and Miguel Batista in the last week, New York’s team ERA (4.38) and WHIP (1.40) both rank in the bottom five of the MLB.

Probable Pitching match-ups:

The Blue Jays are throwing out some of their best pitching talent against New York this weekend, but all are coming off of lackluster starts, compared to what they have done earlier this season.

Jonathon Niese (NYM) 2-1, 3.40 ERA vs. Ricky Romero (TOR) 4-1, 3.88 ERA

Miguel Batista (NYM) 1-1, 4.26 ERA vs. Brandon Morrow (TOR) 4-2, 2.22 ERA

Dillon Gee (NYM) 2-3, 5.65 ERA vs. Henderson Alvarez (TOR) 3-3, 2.62 ERA

Niese had to deal with flu-like symptoms in his last outing, but threw six scoreless, and Miguel Batista takes the hill following his most successful appearance of 2012. On the other hand, Ricky Romero had some control issues in his first loss of the season in his last start, walking four in 5.1 innings, Morrow allowed six runs in his most recent outing, and despite his seventh quality start of 2012, Alvarez saw his three-game winning streak disappear. So, New York has a chance to jump on these young stud pitchers.

Recent Head-to-Head results:

Since the inception of interleague play in 1997, the Mets and Blue Jays have only met head-to-head 18 times, but only three times in the last six years, so these two teams are drastically different from the last time they played each other.

Overall, New York has dominated Toronto, going 14-4 against the lone Canadian team in the Major Leagues. The Amazins have done most of their damage at home, going 9-0 at Shea Stadium, and virtually breaking even in Toronto with a 5-4 record. The most recent meeting between these organizations came in the magical Mets year of 2006, when Willie Randolph’s squad traveled north of the

border to face Carlos Delgado’s former team for a three-game set.

New York won two of the three games, and the pitchers of record in each of these contests makes me feel all nostalgic; Tom Glavine and Steve Trachsel won the first and last games of the series, while Orlando Hernandez lost the middle contest to who else, but Roy Halladay. New York pitching put a hurting on the Toronto offense, allowing 3.7 runs/game, while the Mets were scoring 5.7 runs/game.

This is the only series these two teams will play against each other this year, so Jose Bautista and co. will have to wait for another time to try and do something at Citi Field that they never had the chance to do at Shea…win.

What to watch for:

We should always watch for David Wright, but especially during interleague play. In 353 at-bats, he’s amassed a .314 average, 18 home runs, and 80 RBI. I would say that he enjoys seeing the American League just as much as the next guy. It will be interesting to see how Terry Collins utilizes the DH position, as well. It will allow Kirk Nieuwenhuis to play the field each game at an AL park, but there will most likely be some combination of Lucas Duda, Scott Hairston, and Justin Turner in the mix.

Jose Bautista is teetering on the Mendoza line, but even though he’s struggling to hit his weight, he’s still among the top-20 in the MLB with 9 home runs. This is one of the premier power hitters of the game (106 HRs since 2010) and this could be the only time we as fans get to watch him hit against the Mets for the next few years, barring a playoff match-up. I tend to enjoy one of the great offensive players in the league.

Tags: Daniel Murphy David Wright Johan Santana Jose Bautista Kirk Nieuwenhuis Matt Musico Mets @ Blue Jays New York Mets Ricky Romero Rising Apple Series Preview Toronto Blue Jays